This is a real story that happened today. I asked my friend whether I could write what happened exactly. He laughed and said, “Only if you pay me some of what you get.” But then he said that it was OK.
The telephone rang at about 8 this morning and woke me up. I felt that it was a dream. It was my neighbor Hanan, on the line saying that her husband, Nabil, fell unconscious and needs a doctor. My wife, Beesan, and I are close friends with Nabil and Hanan. We live in a high-rise building on the sixth floor, and Gaza Beach is across the street. Nabil and his wife and their four kids live on the fifth floor.
Immediately I found myself knocking at the door. Hanan looked panicked as she opened it. I went in and found Nabil lying down on a sofa. I asked Hanan to bring me some perfume, and as soon as I anointed his face, Nabil opened his eyes and said in a suffocated voice, “Please help me, I’m very tired.” Nabil and I are the same age. We went to school together when we were kids, and became neighbors when we grew up.
I picked up the phone and called an ambulance, then I had a short conversation with him before the ambulance came. I told him not to worry and that all of us love him. Within 10 minutes, the ambulance was downstairs, a nurse and the ambulance driver came into the flat, the nurse checked his blood pressure and said, “He has a high-blood pressure and needs a doctor.” Then the three of us carried him and put him into the ambulance, and I followed them in my car.
As soon as the ambulance arrived at the main hospital in Gaza City–it is known as Shiffa, and it is not a good hospital compared with other hospitals in the West Bank or in Israel–Nabil began to feel much better. He went into the emergency room. I went in, too, and helped Nabil to lie down on the bed. The doctors came and began to check his chest and his blood pressure. They suspected that he has angina or some heart problems, but they said that his blood pressure was fine and his heartbeats were normal. They told him that it is something psychological, and he had this because of pressure, tension, and sadness. They asked him to relax at home for few days.
Nabil is very clever. He owns a factory in Gaza that produces bamboo furniture. All his products are bought by customers in Israel and the West Bank. Nabil told me while I drove him back home that his bamboo business has been declining over the last couple of months because of the security closure that Israel imposes on the Gaza from time to time, especially when there are attacks carried out by Islamic fundamentalists or during the Jewish Passover and Remembrance Day.
Today, Nabil told me that one of his customers from the West Bank gave him a $4,000 check for a product that he bought last month. The check bounced. Nabil called up this man today. They had a very sharp conversation, which ended when Nabil fell down unconscious. He now feels all right, and I have to get back to my work as a stringer for different international news organizations.